CatholicSoup is a religious-run blog designed to provide Catholic insight through personal experience.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

To the Heights: Responding in Prayer

Mt. Evans Chicago Lakes Trail near Denver, Co
There are so many ways that God reveals himself to us in our daily lives, it can be through the people we meet and see, the events in our lives and my favorite, through creation and the beauty we perceive. God in His infinite love for us, overflows with love for us, thus, using the simplest things (or not so simple) God radiates and reveals himself through the transcendental beauty and the created world...But what is this all for? 
Why does God reveal His love through those we meet, or those we have hard times with, or those sunsets and mountains? Why the "middle-man?"

The simplest answer is that He loves us. The other answer is that without those things, we would never really begin a movement and conversion to know and love God. If God revealed himself directly to us one of two things might happen: 1) We would never comprehend his Being, or his fullness. God is so great that it would be difficult for us to understand who He is and God knows this. Thereby, creating conceivable things that lead and reveal us to him. 2) If God revealed himself there would be no journey, no conversion and no meaning of life. We would have reached our end and our goal in attaining true knowledge and love for God.

With all this in mind, there are two realities that we have to face: 1) We are a broken people, therefore always needing of God's grace, love and mercy, and should always, always rely on His Grace to continuously shape us and lead us in the right direction. and 2) Life is a journey and it always will be until we reach those heights of Heaven in the end of times. This means that life will always have those ups and downs, there will be death, trial and temptation. What good is a conversion if these are not present? 

On Route to Pikes Peak Summit 
Mt Evans near Denver, CO

Brendan and I on route to Pikes Peak Summit
in Colorado Springs, Co 
All of that comes from knowing that God reveals Himself and His love through the beauty of the created world. So is that it? Are we supposed to just admit to ourselves that we are broken therefore need grace and then live the life roller-coaster through the good times, the bad and strive for conversion?...
I think there's more to it then that. By this love God reveals to us, Sure we should realize that we need God's help, and we should set on that journey to conversion, but with that, we should respond to that love of God in prayer. That is what will take us to the heights of the spiritual mountain. Saint Paul invites us, Jesus invites us, to respond to God's love in prayer, being fervent and zealous in our prayer life.

 "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thess 5:16

My Postulant brothers and I at the Incline Summit
near Colorado Springs, Co
With the love and beauty of God being revealed by beauty and creation itself, I have taken to heart the words of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, "The higher we go, the better we shall hear the voice of Christ." and for me personally, I think he means this in both physical and spiritual senses. Physically, hiking and climbing mountains to see the beauty and love being revealed by God. This alone allows us to be a little more attentive and responsive to God than down at the bottom. Spiritually, if we are in prayer and in consolation, that is the joy of the heart while being in tune with and receiving God's graces willingly, we are in a sense "on a mountain." It's on that mountain that Bl. Pier Giorgio says, we will hear the voice of God. 

The importance is that we are listening, we are attentive, we are virtuous, and we are transmitting that love that is being transmitted to us by God. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Chaos to Conversion: Detachment

Hermitage day at Our Lady of the Angels Friary in
Black Forest near Colorado Springs.
There's a story in the Gospels about a man who comes across Jesus, and so he asks him what it takes to inherit the Kingdom of God that Jesus so often spoke about. Jesus tells him that he should sell what he has, give to the poor and then he will have treasure in Heaven. The man, walks away sad because he had so many things. (Matt 10:17-30) I love this story in Matthew, because it reveals to us that there is necessary a physical stripping of ourselves if we really want to build that still-shaky relationship with God. Not only does our faith require a physical detachment but I think what the Gospel is pointing to is an interior detachment as well. Detachment from caring only about ourselves, from restlessness in our own hearts, detachment from all the noise and chaos within. It's a two fold coin and I think the journey through that process leads to a true, healthy and happy conversion.

As Postulants, my classmates and I do various ministries throughout the week. The two main focuses are with the homeless and the elderly. Both require stepping outside the comfortable box we're so used to and putting ourselves in the very shoes and life of the person. The difficulty is understanding what they need and recognizing how you can be there for that person even if that means thinking less of yourself and what makes you comfortable. So often the people that we serve end up serving us in some way and for me in my ministry, the beautiful thing that we [my brothers] recognize is that these people, who have nothing, still have so much to give. Homeless are asking me if I am doing alright, and if I need anything. Elderly who are dying and on deathbeds are asking me if I have eaten or if I am okay. I have found it ironic that those who seem to have no life, give the most of it. From that lesson, I believe that that's what the gospel is calling each of us to do. Give up all that you have, so that you can be so immensely open and free for God that you are able to give every ounce to those who need it the most.  The calling is to seek a true poverty that always leads us to love as Saint Francis did. With that two fold coin, I have outlined just a few things that might help you and me on that journey to the Kingdom of God when it comes to detachment. Here are a few things that might help battle the consequences of obtaining material things, contrary to detachment.

PRAY- Praying is conversation with God, it's also understanding that somebody greater is in control, and we can't fight the good fight alone. So recognize that every day is a struggle in the spiritual life, a continuous battle that can be won. Pray always even when you don't have the patience to pray, especially in the silence. Pray for help, pray for conversion and pray for the grace seek God above all other things. Join me in this petition.

GIVE THANKS- It's easy to forget about all the things we really do have when we're living in it. Like the saying, "You don't know what you have until it's gone." So be grateful and never take life for granted. Be thankful for every circumstance and trial and show compassion to all those that you encounter, you might be the last person they have. Give your thanks to God by praising him and honoring him with talents and gifts. The greatest way of Thanksgiving to God is through the Holy Eucharist in the Mass. Join me in this petition.

In our natural born tendency to possess material things, I believe there becomes chaos in our lives, in our spirituality and therefore keeping us from really understanding and portraying a life of love and discipleship in Christ. For Saint Francis, once we knew that his own Chaos was preventing him from truly loving those people who needed it the most, he began living out the gospel, praying and praising God every moment of his life. It's the same for us, once we recognize our own chaos, there is a move and a desire for detachment with the help of God's grace. In our prayers, thanksgiving and praise we can begin a journey to conversion.

Saint Francis of Assisi, Pray for us